Thursday, March 12, 2009

That's The Way it Was

March 6, 1981. That is when TV news died. What is on now is drivel, entertainment and macabre comedy; full of sound bites, inane arguing, and outright manipulation of facts.

You see, on March 6, 1981, 28 years ago, Walter Cronkite said his final “and that’s the way it is”.

There are a few TV (and print) journalists who can still report the complex issues of today’s events, giving time for arguments from all sides. These professional journalists strive to provide insightful, honest and unbiased facts and let us, the viewer, decide the merits of the case. Unfortunately, they are as scarce as hen’s teeth and are being replaced by a new breed of news/entertainment hack.

If you are argumentative, extreme and divisive, you are half way there to landing a slot on the prime news channels. An AM radio hour is yours for the asking. You don’t see both sides, the other side is the enemy, you want them to fail. Thoughtful discourse is boring, name calling, marginalizing and sensationalism make you a ratings star. Hypocritically you bask in their gaffes and downplay, ignore or even deny the gaffes of your chosen leader. Finding common ground??? Challenging conventional wisdom?? Not done. Screaming sound bites, harping, hypocrisy… that is what counts. We are separated into warring camps. We listen only to our own propaganda...and condemn the other camp to hell.

This rant got started because my neighbor is losing his hearing and thus has turned the volume of his damn FUX News crap up so I can hear it in the hall way of the Palace. Good grief…yap, rant, whine, scream, all day. Their biased, or even deliberately misleading and provocative opinions are raised solely to increase ratings, not give us the facts.

Along with the strident pissing and moaning, the screen is filled with these annoying runners, or whatever you call them, inundating the viewer with more information than he/she can ever process.

It makes me crazy.

I think to be fully informed in this age, one needs to get news from a variety of sources, for example the local paper on line or better a print copy, Google,, BBC, St Louis Post Dispatch or maybe even other bloggers. Too many people have become lazy, letting Hannity, Limbaugh, or Obermann form their opinions for them. Politicians used to fear the media because it kept them honest. Now they fear them because they could weaken their poll numbers in their base constituency.

Sadly in this time of unparalleled media access, we do not have a Walter Cronkite to turn to. We have to sort through this myriad of often untrustworthy sources to get at what is really going on, instead of through one trustworthy, concise and blessedly unbiased journalist.

I guess that is the way it was.

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